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Historical Society asks for help restoring tower

The old courthouse tower is standing tall at the Wadena County Historical Society, but needs extensive repairs before it can stand proud. At the Aug. 15 county board meeting, Sandi Pratt, director Wadena County Historical Society, requested the board consider chipping in some of the money needed to restore the tower.

"We want to make this a focal point of Wadena," she said about the society's plans for the tower.

The tower is a remnant of the original 1886 court house that was torn down in 1970. It stood at the county fairgrounds until the historical society moved the tower to its property along U.S. Highway 71 in July. The society would like to restore the tower to its original appearance.

The total estimated cost of restoring tower is $9,819.54, Pratt said, although much of the cost of labor will come from in-kind volunteer work. The cost of materials for the project is estimated at $7,163.32.

"It's quite a spendy project," she acknowledged. "We're not looking for the total amount by any means. Just some help."

The society has already gathered $1,100 from board members and the public, she said. They are also sending a grant request to Wal-Mart and letters to the community to raise funds.

The commissioners did not make any promises to offer funding, but said they would look into it.

"We'll put it on our budget, discuss it and see if we can scrape up a little," said Commissioner Mary Harrison.

Other items discussed at the meeting include:

• The board approved Emergency Manager Scott McKellep's request for a resolution asking Gov. Pawlenty to petition the president of the United States to declare Wadena County a major disaster area because of the drought. The resolution states that the cost of recovering from the drought is beyond Wadena County resources.

• The commissioners passed a resolution approving the proposal for a land exchange between Wadena County and the Potlatch Forest Products Corporation.

• The board accepted a $22,480 bid from Waln Excavating and Blacktopping to tear down the west portion of the Wensman building next to the Friendly Rider bus facility. The removal of the old building will allow the county to begin renovating the bus garage.

• The board discussed an invitation by the Ag Society to attend a public meeting at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the 4-H building at the county fairgrounds. The board determined to make the meeting a special commissioners meeting. The board will meet with the Ag Society to discuss the future of the Wadena County Fair. Board members said they hope community members for and against the continuation of the annual Wadena County Fair will participate in the meeting.